In 1972 Meeting purchased land outside the site of the meetinghouse. It includes 118 acres of pasture, wetland, and forest, plus a spring, a pond and a section of Long Plain Brook. 108 acres are in Leverett and 10 acres are in Sunderland. The land covers a roughly triangular area with its base along Long Plain Road and the railroad tracks. See the map on the inside back cover of the Handbook.
The area immediately surrounding the meetinghouse, including the burial ground, is cared for by the Grounds Committee. The rest of the Meeting’s land is administered by the Land Use Committee. In May 1978, after lengthy discussion, we decided that some of the land – the portion north and west of the power lines – should be cut periodically for lumber, while the rest would remain largely unmanaged or for agriculture. In 1983 Land Use Committee’s portion was put under conservancy, under Massachusetts Law Chapters 61, 61A, and 61B, for forestry, agriculture, and recreational use, respectively. This gives us reduced tax rates.
Approximately 50 acres are in forestry/agriculture including the area northeast of the power lines, the pasture lands southwest of the meetinghouse and a strip of land around the northwest and southwest sides of the wetlands. The remaining acreage, including the wetlands is classified as recreational. A forest management plan was submitted to the Massachusetts Department of Land Management by the Land Use Committee and the Trustees in 6/94 and in 2004. A new report is made every 10 years. A forestry plan was accepted by the State and a copy was filed with the Assessor of the Town of Leverett in 9/04. The current plan is effective from 2004 to 2014. The Committee may hire a forest management consultant to help with these reports.
Proceeds from selective logging operations in 1979, 1995, and 2001, mainly to remove hemlocks, were put into a “timber fund” to be used for special projects to be decided later (1/80). This Fund was closed in 2010. Some land under Chapter 61A, along Long Plain Brook, has been leased to abutter and Meeting member Brad Archer, for agricultural purposes limited to grazing sheep and haying.
There is an extensive network of trails, some of which are overgrown, but others may be used for hiking and cross-country skiing. Friends are urged to explore the many beautiful nooks and crannies of our lands. A map of Meeting land is printed on the inside of the back cover of this Handbook. Camping is allowed with the permission of the Land Use Committee.
No swimming is permitted in the pond, as our insurance does not cover that activity. A sign saying “Swimming is not Permitted” has been posted at the pond.
A simple footbridge (currently in disrepair) south of the pond gives access to our land beyond Long Plain Brook. For occasional access by vehicles, including cars, trucks, and equipment, we have an easement with abutters Bob and Micha Strong on a gravel road across a culvert over Long Plain Brook. W.D. Cowls lumber company has an agreement with the Meeting for a right-of-way to truck logs across Meeting land from their abutting property on the north (6/90, 2/94). Western Massachusetts Electric Company has a 100-foot right-of-way for a power line through the property. Abutter Brad Archer has a deeded right to access a spring on Meeting’s forested land across Long Plain Brook.
In 4/95 at a hearing in Leverett, Meeting successfully opposed a proposal to declare the land opposite us on Route 63 a General Business Zone; we stated that we expect our land “to remain forever protected from further development.”
(From the 2015 Handbook.)